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GCSE: J.B. Priestley

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John Boynton Priestley's biography

  1. 1 He was born in Yorkshire in 1894. He left school at sixteen because he believed that the world outside the classroom would help him become a writer. He said that it was the years 1911-14 ‘that set their stamp upon me’.
  2. 2 When World War One broke out in 1914, Priestley joined the infantry and by the time he left the army in 1919, he had seen active front-line service and narrowly escaped being killed. These experiences were to influence his future writing.
  3. 3 When he left the army he went to Cambridge University and although he finished his degree, he did not like academia and went to London to work as a freelance writer.
  4. 4 He soon became a successful writer of essays and novels and in 1932 he wrote his first play Dangerous Corner to prove that he could adapt his style for the stage. He soon established himself as a leading figure in the London theatre.
  5. 5 When World War Two broke out in 1939 Priestley continued to write his plays, while also writing and broadcasting on BBC radio. During this time he was producing his best work and wrote An Inspector Calls (1945) about the effects of an individual’s actions and the consequences of those actions.

  • Marked by Teachers essays 21
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  1. Marked by a teacher

    The apportioning of blame and responsibility are central themes in 'An Inspector Calls'. Each character plays a part in Eva Smiths downfall. Show how the playwright explores these themes during the course of the play.

    4 star(s)

    Further and in the play we find out that it is the engagement of Sheila Birling and Gerald Croft. At this point Edna clears the table and everyone begins a light-hearted chat, everything seems to be going smoothly. I think J. B. Priestley uses this cosy atmosphere so as to use dramatic irony to warn the audience that this atmosphere will not last long. I see this when Mr Birling changes to subject to the Titanic saying, " why, a friend of mine went over this new liner last week-The Titanic-forty-six thousand, eight hundred tons-every luxury-and unsinkable, absolutely unsinkable" another subject to Mr Birling brings up is World War I by saying " I'll tell you......

    • Word count: 3811
  2. An Inspector Calls. How does J.B Priestley use the Inspector as a dramatic device?

    This shows the first instance that the family is putting everything on for show to make everything seem wonderful in the outside world, keeping their darker moments behind closed doors. It is 'not homelike', suggesting that the Birlings' are a very materialistic family and rely on such extravagant works to make their house seem like a home. This fa�ade is seen throughout the play as they try to cover up all the wrongdoings in the family and try to make everything perfect.

    • Word count: 3105
  3. How does JB Priestley expound his views of social hypocrisy in An Inspector Calls?

    Artists at this time were influenced by a greater awareness of human rights. Before the start of the play, the stage directions are given. All of the action in the play is set in the dining room. There are three acts in the play. The characters in the play are Arthur Birling who comes from the middle class but is very wealthy. He has married Sybil Birling who comes from the upper class. Their daughter is called Sheila Birling; she is to be married to Gerald Croft who is a very wealthy man.

    • Word count: 3964
  4. Who (or what) do you think is to blame for the death of Eva Smith?

    This indicates that Mr Birling is a social climber. He is aware of the reputation of Sir George Croft and his company and he wants to be in the same level as them. He even goes as far as telling Gerald that 'it's exactly the same port that his father gets from Finchley.' This is an indication, of the show that Mr Birling is putting on for Gerald. He wants Gerald to know that he is almost as top as the Crofts Company.

    • Word count: 5115
  5. An Inspector Calls. Explore the social and political views of the Birlings and the Crofts.

    It also states, "Mr Birling is rather provincial in his speech." This means that Mr birling is not very aristocratic or upper class in his speech, which also indicates that he is from a middle class background. In this quotation Arthur Birling shows us that he is a hardheaded businessman. It also suggests that the only reason Birling wants Sheila to marry Gerald is in order to consolidate his business interests, "Crofts Limited are both older and bigger than Birling and company." This quotation shows that Sheila and Gerald got engaged, so the two businesses could come together.

    • Word count: 3355
  6. What is the function of the Inspector in An Inspector Calls?

    This is the struggle of Good and Evil. The Inspector reflects Priestley's ideas and thoughts and voice them out, Priestly himself is a socialist even before he has fought in the two major world wars and realises the importance of everyone and life. At the end of the play, the Inspectors final comment warns Mr Birling,because of his nature, the Inspector wanted him to change and to respect everyone and treat them equally. The name Goole - Inspector Goole - sounds mysterious and a bit sinister, this is supported by the fact he seems to know a wide variety of things and all these knowledge and understanding is the truth, which makes it even more sinister.

    • Word count: 3122
  7. This essay will be exploring why and how J.B Priestley presents Arthur Birling in this remarkable play An Inspector Calls.

    The play was then written and published in 1945 just after world war two had finished. This was a time where change occurred and reconstruction of Britain had started to take place with the setting up of the welfare state. The play helped people realise that there is no difference between upper and lower class and that together they comprise the community. Priestley portrays his message through the use of the Birling family, typical characters for people in high society.

    • Word count: 4036
  8. An Inspector Calls

    He appears in the play like a lightening and shocks every one like a thunder. In the beginning of the play, Priestley widely explains the stage directions. The wealthy Birling family were celebrating there daughter Sheila's engagement to Gerald, who is even wealthier. He clearly shows the luxurious life of Birling family, by which he means all the ruling class people. He exemplifies how the family are very rich and wealthy, by showing the way they uses "dessert plates" and "champagne glasses" as well as other expensive items and to describe their wealth he also explains the way that they uses 'decanter of port' and 'cigarettes' for their party.

    • Word count: 3594
  9. An inspector calls is set in entirely one room. How does priestley create and maintain tension throughout the play?

    This therefore also emphasis the idea of police and it makes the birling family look and feel like criminals. In fact, a lot of this play puts a spotlight on the birlings and the audiences, making them question their own morals and their own actions. Priestly also uses setting to create tension, for example we are told the birlings are living in a 'fairly large suburban house' which is however 'not cosy and homelike' this suggests that the scene did seem positive at the start but the 'not cosy' creates tension by suggesting that the family may live in a big house but they aren't happy. And it almost suggests that the house is too big to be 'cosy'.

    • Word count: 3007
  10. An Inspector Calls is a play with strong morals. How does Priestley use Inspector Goole to make the characters admit their guilt and to convey a message of morality to the audience?

    Moreover, I will discuss how the Inspector conveys a message of morality to the audience. J.B Priestley shares his intelligent ways of making the characters confess, through the Inspectors image. He gifts numerous strategies to Goole who uses these devices to unfold the dark mysteries lurking within the characters pasts. The Inspector begins his interrogation with Mr. Birling who immediately denies of ever knowing Eva Smith, consequently Goole decides to produce a photograph before Arthur to refresh his long lost memories: "Inspector takes a photograph about postcard size, out of his pocket and goes to Birling."

    • Word count: 4041
  11. An inspector calls

    One main device he uses is the effect of the lightning that changes throughout the play. The play is set in the dining room of the Birlings, where the family is celebrating the engagement of their daughter Sheila Birling. At the beginning the lightning is "pink and intimate". This pink and intimate lightning shows that the atmosphere is very soft and romantic. However as soon as Inspector Goole enters the play this pink and intimate lightning is changed immediately. Now it changes to "brighter and harder", which is showing tension. Priestley uses the lightning to show the contrast of the atmosphere in the play visually.

    • Word count: 3307
  12. Discuss The Role Of The Inspector In An Inspector Calls

    The characters in 'An Inspector Calls' are based on different immoral types such as gluttony, avarice and lust. This is key because this is what Priestley aimed to achieve in his play - he wanted people to think and change how they were behaving. In the play Priestley shows what mistakes are being made because he doesn't want another war and wants the world to be a better place. This is shown in his play through the constant contrast between the rich and the poor.

    • Word count: 3381
  13. The message of an inspector calls

    The main point of 'An Inspector Calls' is that everyone is responsible for everyone else, that every decision we make has a consequence that will affect someone else so we must think very carefully about everything we do. As this is perhaps the central message of the play, it is conveyed by Inspector Goole himself very noticeably as he spends the entire duration of his time visiting the Birling's trying to prove this. This could be the only message that Inspector has actually come to tell the Birling Family, all the other ones are messages that are discovered within the family themselves.

    • Word count: 3554
  14. JB Priestley ends each act on a note of high drama. Examine how tension is developed towards the end of each act and the way language and dramatic devices are used to reveal his political message.

    There was also the matter of women; they were seen inferior to men and all an upper-class woman could do was get married, whereas a lower-class woman was merely seen as cheap labour. However, this also changed as a result of the wars, and eventually women earned a more respected place in society. The last significant change to the conditions of Britain, at the time the play was written and set, was to the upper-class's attitude to social change; before the war, the ruling classes saw no need to change the status quo, whereas after the wars, there was great aspiration for social change.

    • Word count: 4555
  15. How does the character of Sheila Change during the course of J.B. Preistely's "Inspector Calls"

    We have a hint that Gerald was up to something last summer - "except for last summer..." But Sheila doesn't seem to bother about what Gerald was up to. Sheila's mother reassures her as well, that he was just busy - "Now, Sheila, don't tease him. When you're married you'll realize that men with important work to do sometimes have to spend nearly all their time and energy on their business." This also shows that Sheila is a playful character after her mother accuses her of teasing Gerald. From Sheila's character at this point, we get the impression that she is happy with life and at the moment she is not worried about anything.

    • Word count: 5173
  16. An Inspector Calls

    It is obvious how he tries to impress everybody, especially Gerald, when he says, "you ought to like this port, Gerald. As a matter of fact, Finchley told me it's exactly the same port as your father gets from him." Mr. Birling mentions that the party is gone of the happiest nights of his life, and this suggests that it's not only Sheila he his happy for but himself as he will be able to have a stronger connection with the 'Croft' family.

    • Word count: 3272
  17. Inspector calls essay discuss role of inspector

    inspector address the audience directly using 1st person pronoun "we" he is sending a message to the audience, giving his wisdom of advice .It is clear to the audience that the inspector is trying to prevent hate and selfishness throughout the world. This makes us ready for someone who is caring for other and accepts responsibility for his and others actions. Birling represents the idea of individuality that does accepts no responsibility for other "if we were all responsible for everything that happened to everybody we'd had had anything to do with it would be awkward".

    • Word count: 3210
  18. How " and how successfully - does Priestley set about making An Inspector Calls(TM) powerful and thought-provoking?

    Lastly, Priestley's drama comprises one plot only. Extraneous and diverting sub-plots, so common in Shakespearean plays, do not exist in An Inspector Calls - as Priestley does not want his audience diverted, or the purposefulness of his play diluted. Together, all these similar dramatic structures show that Priestley has been aware of, and formed his play around, certain 'rules' for drama - originating from a mistaken interpretation of Aristotle's Poetics - The 'Three Unities.' These became 'rules' in the 16th and 17th centuries when it became the norm to the action, place and time of a play constant and although they were certainly no longer rules when

    • Word count: 3213
  19. How does Priestley create drama and convey his concerns in 'An Inspector Calls'?

    It is part of his deeply felt, genuine concern for humanity, not just the expression of a political opinion. Dramatic devices are used to build drama like Lighting, Props, Emotions on the characters faces, Stage Directions, words and actions of the characters, Dramatic Irony and the Setting of the Play. All these things create drama and help to keep the play interesting. At the beginning of the play we find the Birling family sitting down finishing their dinner. It is obvious that the home is of a successful and prosperous man.

    • Word count: 5987
  20. An Inspector Calls

    "The next time you imagine it, just remember this girl was going to have a child" this makes Sheila feel awful as children are very precious and to think that they ruined the life of a baby as well as a young woman is a horrible thought to deal with. "You see, we have to share something. If there's nothing else, we'll have to share our guilt" the inspector is letting them all know that it is important they admit to playing a crucial part in Eva's death and that they should all share the blame.

    • Word count: 4658
  21. Responsibility and Guilt in An Inspector Calls

    Using the play, Priestley attacks the social standards of the time, a time in which people were just concerned for themselves with no concern for the welfare of the community. Priestley was a socialist and believed that people should either share their wealth or help those in need. In several of his plays he tried to persuade people to become socialist. He uses 'An Inspector Calls' to voice some of his beliefs e.g. what can happen if we ignore the feelings of others.

    • Word count: 3125
  22. Free essay

    "AN INSPECTOR CALLS" By J. B. Priestly has been described as a play of social criticism. What is being criticised in the play?

    The first of which is Arthur Birling. Priestly writes him to be arrogant, pompous and responsible only for himself; also with an overthrowing of pride and control on his family. He represents the 5%of the population I mentioned, the wealthy capitalist businessmen. Priestly does this to show the audience what awful people these capitalists can be, and that there are such people in existence. To show this, Birling says: "Working together - for lower costs and higher prices" Basically describing the typical businessmen; trying to gain as much profit, by giving low wages, despite the knowledge of the struggle the workers live with.

    • Word count: 3254
  23. english coursework - an inspector calls - eric.doc

    As the play goes on, Eric changes his views to be more of a socialist, and ends up being a much more compassionate, caring and considerate young man, rather than self-prioritised and selfish. >Priestley establishes an early impression of the characters' personalities and interests for the audience before the inspector comes so that we know what kind of people they are. We know that Eric seems to be quite quiet at the beginning, and his first line is after he laughs after Gerald and Sheila's conversation.

    • Word count: 3970
  24. An inspector calls

    In 1912, there were strong divisions between the upper and lower classes, but after World War one, and World War two, the Holocaust, the Titanic sinking, and the Atom bomb, there was a great want for social change between the upper and lower classes for the country to stick together in the event of another disaster occurring. As this social reform had taken place, the effect on the audience was likely to be huge, and would make both the upper and the lower class audiences realise just how bad the upper class treated the lower class during the pre-war period.

    • Word count: 4446
  25. An Inspector Calls coursework

    There was also a change in social thought; there was more attention towards the poor, and also the status of women. The women's suffrage also protested for the rights of women, as it was a social, economical, and political movement aimed at extending the right to vote for women. There was a lot of rapid industrialisation and more economical opportunities which created an environment in which there was more social interaction and people became more liberal. I will be analysing a section of the play, which I have chosen to be from p45-49.

    • Word count: 3740

Conclusion analysis

Good conclusions usually refer back to the question or title and address it directly - for example by using key words from the title.
How well do you think these conclusions address the title or question? Answering these questions should help you find out.

  1. Do they use key words from the title or question?
  2. Do they answer the question directly?
  3. Can you work out the question or title just by reading the conclusion?
  • To what extent is each character responsible for Eva's death?

    "In conclusion the inspector was a very good role model not just for the audience, but also for the Birling children. Mr Birling was the most responsible for Eva's death as he harmed her first. There were two people that learnt a lot, they were Sheila and Eric Birling. This is because they were able to communicate with the inspector and understand what he said, the inspector may make them change in the future as they are both able to make up their own minds and understand when they have made mistakes. They try to help their parents understand what they have done to Eva and how they caused her to commit suicide. Sheila and Eric will be able to learn from their parent's mistakes, as they are the younger generation. 4"

  • An Inspector Calls Essay - To what extent can the tragedy of Eva Smith be blamed on the society in which she lived.

    "In conclusion to the death of Eva Smith, I don't believe you can blame any of the Birlings as such, as it was also related to social activities that took place in such a short time of Eva's life. If all the strife she went through didn't happen, then I don't believe that Eva smith would have killed herself. So in conclusion, Eva smith's death has to be blamed on a chain of events that unfortunately and unthinkingly happened at the wrong time of her life."

  • Compare and contrast the characters of Mr. Birling and inspector Goole. How does Priestley use dramatic devices to help shape audiences response to view represented in the play.

    "In conclusion Birling and the Inspector are two opposite characters priestley used birling and his views as the audience and the inspector as himself hoping he could change their views as it would help society. Priestly was getting across to the audience the message that, at the end of the day everyone's got to help with society or else all of us will die. Therefore the message is still relevant today "we do not live alone"."

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